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January 4, 2016

In 2016, The Economist says in this short video, the richest 1 percent of the world's population will, for the first time, have a larger share of global wealth than the other 99 percent.

Wealth and income inequality used to be a topic that concerned mostly leftist and Marxist economists, but this week it is perhaps the major topic of discussion and research at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in San Francisco, The New York Times reports. And the top 1 percent of the wealth isn't even the real story; the biggest gains in wealth have been among the top 0.25 percent of earners, roughly 250,000 people whose income has ballooned in recent decades while the typical American worker is earning roughly the same.

The economists disagree over the consequences and policy prescriptions for the growing wealth chasm, but "this is a truly global phenomenon, and I don’t know any serious economist who would deny inequality has gone up," says Nicholas A. Bloom, a Stanford economics professor. "The debate is over the magnitude, not the direction."

The Times focus on a paper Bloom is writing with four other economists which shows that the top quarter of 1 percent of Americans — those earning $640,000 or more a year — have seen their salaries double from 1981 to 2013, even accounting for inflation, but that the pay of the highest-paid employees at large, successful companies has gone up 140 percent while the wages of the typical employee at these corporate juggernauts have fallen 5 percent. "There's no reason the free market will solve this," says Bloom, whom The Times describes as "a native of Britain whose politics veer toward a laissez-faire approach and the Conservative Party there." You can read more about Bloom's research and the annual AEA meeting at The New York Times. Peter Weber

11:15 a.m. ET
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday urged President Obama to reject a bill extending sanctions on Iran which passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 99-0 vote.

"America's president is obliged to exercise his authority by preventing [the bill's] approval and particularly its implementation," Rouhani said in a parliamentary speech, "and if this gross violation is carried out we will firmly respond."

The White House has said it does not believe the sanctions violate the Iran deal, as Rouhani claims, and Obama is expected to sign the bill. If approved, the extended Iran Sanctions Act will permit the president stop investment in key Iranian industries, including its energy sector. President-elect Donald Trump has expressed dissatisfaction with "terrible" Iran deal, promising to renegotiate it on better terms for the United States. Bonnie Kristian

10:53 a.m. ET

At least three times since the election, Hillary Clinton has been spotted — and duly photographed for social media — while taking walks through the woods near her home in Chappaqua, New York. The sightings have become such a regular occurrence that Saturday Night Live launched a "quest for Bigfoot"-style investigation to find Clinton in a sketch called "The Hunt for Hil."

As one eyewitness recounts, the creature haunting the woods of Westchester County is "blonde, about 5-foot-6, and it seemed like it wanted to be by itself — so I started running after it." Wildlife investigators Rafe DeGraw and Coop Dixon are on the case, mimicking as a lure the distinctive laugh of "the most elusive legend of all." Watch the full skit below. Bonnie Kristian

10:33 a.m. ET

The ashes of former Cuban President Fidel Castro were interred Sunday morning in Santiago, Cuba, following nine days of national mourning. "Few in the world believed in [Cuba's] ability to resist and overcome," said Fidel's brother, current Cuban President Raúl Castro, at the interment. "Fidel showed us that it was possible."

Raúl also announced Cuba would not name streets and landmarks after his deceased brother, insisting that the "leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality and was consistent in that through the last hours of his life." Apparently having missed that memo, Cubans who watched a four-day procession of Castro's casket chanted, "I am Fidel! I am Fidel!" as it passed. Bonnie Kristian

8:47 a.m. ET
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President-elect Donald Trump "is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world's leading countries," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview aired Sunday. "Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if [he is] a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions," Putin added.

Trump has been accused of undue friendliness toward Putin, particularly considering alleged Russian hacking to influence the U.S. election. Before Sunday's remarks, Trump liked to quote a mistranslated Putin comment in which Trump believed the Russian president called him "brilliant." But a better translation than "brilliant" would be "vivid" or "colorful;" the Russian word Putin used means "bright," yet does not carry the English meaning of "intelligent." Bonnie Kristian

8:25 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live returned with an opener featuring Alec Baldwin's Twitter-happy President-elect Donald Trump, as well as the random Twitter users he loves to retweet. While Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway vainly attempted to wrangle Trump for a security briefing, the apparently irresistible lure of sharing the words of complete strangers with millions of people just kept pulling him back to his phone.

Though the sketch was ripped from real life (Trump actually did retweet a 16-year-old high school kid weighing in on voter fraud last week), the man himself was yet again displeased with SNL's portrayal. "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live — unwatchable!" he said on Twitter, apparently without irony. "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse." Watch the offending skit below. Bonnie Kristian

8:01 a.m. ET

The Green Party dropped its initial case for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania in court documents released Saturday, but early Sunday the Green Party nominee spearheading the recount campaign, Jill Stein, said she will instead file suit in federal court demanding a recount on constitutional grounds.

On "Monday the Stein campaign will escalate our campaign in Pennsylvania and file for emergency relief in federal court, demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds," said a statement released around midnight.

Pennsylvania required a $1 million bond to advance the recount under Stein's previous strategy. Her recount push has also been hit with lawsuits in Michigan and Wisconsin, and critics have charged the whole project is pointless given electoral realities. Bonnie Kristian

December 3, 2016
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A transgender police officer in San Diego was barred from an LGBT event that she helped organize over concerns that her uniform would upset other attendees. Officer Christine Garcia helped plan and provided security for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event honoring victims of transgender-violence, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. But when she tried to enter a post-march event, she was turned away. A spokesperson blamed the incident on a "misunderstanding" and later apologized directly to Garcia, as well as the San Diego police chief.

"While we need to support those that are uncomfortable and honor their reactions to valid and understandable difficult previous experiences," one of the organizers wrote in a statement, "our LGBTQ San Diego police liaisons are a valued part of our community." The Week Staff

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